Today's computer interfaces use 2-D displays showing windows, icons and menus and support mouse interactions for handling programs and data files. The interface metaphor is that of a writing desk with (partly) overlapping sheets of documents placed on its top. Recent advances in the development of 3-D display technology give the opportunity to take the interface concept a radical stage further by breaking the design limits of the desktop metaphor. The major advantage of the envisioned 'application space' is, that it offers an additional, immediately perceptible dimension to clearly and constantly visualize the structure and current state of interrelations between documents, videos, application programs and networked systems. In this context, we describe the development of a visual operating system (VOS). Under VOS, applications appear as objects in 3-D space. Users can (graphically connect selected objects to enable communication between the respective applications. VOS includes a general concept of visual and object oriented programming for tasks ranging from, e.g., low-level programming up to high-level application configuration. In order to enable practical operation in an office or at home for many hours, the system should be very comfortable to use. Since typical 3-D equipment used, e.g., in virtual-reality applications (head-mounted displays, data gloves) is rather cumbersome and straining, we suggest to use off-head displays and contact-free interaction techniques. In this article, we introduce an autostereoscopic 3-D display and connected video based interaction techniques which allow viewpoint-depending imaging (by head tracking) and visually controlled modification of data objects and links (by gaze tracking, e.g., to pick, 3-D objects just by looking at them).